Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Independent, Romance
Opens locally: October 1st, 2010
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega
Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman (directorial debut)
Run Tim: 1 hour, 29 minutes
"Jack Goes Boating" was a 2007 off-Broadway play by Bob Glaudini, who adapted his own work for the screen. The play also starred Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role as "Jack", as well as Rubin-Vega and Ortiz. This film marks Hoffman's directorial debut, and from what I can tell, is quite faithful to the stage version.
The Plot. The story surrounds Jack, a reggae music-obsessed limo driver who meets Connie (Ryan). They are introduced to each other by a couple, Clyde & Lucy (Rubin-Vega and Ortiz), that Jack is friends with. Jack is an odd, socially-awkward character and Connie seems to be cut of the same cloth...the story centers around their new romance and how they inspire each other to take the necessary steps towards completing one another. As a contrast, Clyde & Lucy are facing some unresolved issues in their marriage, as they drift further and further apart.
Visualize. A main theme in "Jack Goes Boating" is visualizing. Jack is inspired when he meets Connie in the winter and she mentions that she can't wait for summer to go boating. Jack of course, doesn't know how to swim, or wants anything to do with water. Later we see Jack offer to cook a feast for Connie after she suffers a traumatic experience. But Jack doesn't know how to cook. He begins making changes to his life in preparation for the coming summer: learning how to swim, how to cook. All of this he does out of love for Connie.
Jack Goes Boating, I Go To Sleep. The problem with the movie, like many other plays adapted to film, is that not much happens. Most scenes unwind between two or three characters who are just talking, many times in the same environment. It definitely relies on the actors, and here there are definitely some good performances. But a lot of this film just lingers. Maybe it's because Hoffman is an actor himself, or that he hasn't developed quite yet as a film director, but each scene seems to go on far too long. For a movie that is only 1 hour and 29 minutes, it seemed like much longer. These extended scenes don't go to add to the socially-awkward exchanges between Jack and Connie, they simply hold the movie down from any real accelleration.
There's a scene in the movie when Jack is learning to swim, when he is told to go underwater, hold his breath, then come up. Do this over and over, and develop a rhythm. The movie itself is summed up in this lesson, but it doesn't take it's own advice. The movie seems disjointed, at times gasping for breath and at other times staying underwater for too long. There is no rhythm. As we neared the final stages of the film, I was visualizing myself leaving the theatre.
It's not to say that "Jack Goes Boating" is all bad, it's just that it's not altogether good. Some good performances by some great actors, but really not a movie worth recommending unless you are a huge Philip Seymour Hoffman fan.
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